Since you’ve been dealing with glasses and/or contacts for years, you’re probably looking forward to having LASIK. However, you also may have many questions about what you can and cannot do and how you should protect your “new” eyes after your LASIK procedure. Once your LASIK surgeon, Dr. Mozayeni or Dr. Nunnery, completes your LASIK surgery, the healing process is not over the same day - your corneas will continue to heal over the next several weeks, and proper LASIK aftercare is critical to avoiding infection and having an optimal result.
Discover the basics of LASIK aftercare, such as how to take required medications and how to complete daily activities like showering and bathing until your eyes have finished healing.
Taking Care of Your Eyes Post-LASIK: Water Exposure
LASIK Aftercare for Showering & Bathing
Dr. Mozayeni and Dr. Nunnery advise patients that it is okay to bathe or shower normally the day after your LASIK eye surgery. For the first week after your LASIK surgery, it’s important to keep water, soap, hair care products and/or washing liquids away from the eye. Do not rub your eyes while bathing.
If water, soap, shampoo, and/or similar washing materials are not kept out of the eye for the 7-day post-op period, patients could:
- Run the risk of infection with soap, water, shampoo, etc. in the eyes
- Experience burning and irritation
- Rub your eyes and wrinkle the corneal flap made during the LASIK eye surgery
- Accidentally exacerbate any dry eye symptoms/begin experiencing dry eye symptoms
LASIK Aftercare for Other Water Exposure & Swimming
Particularly during the summer months, patients want to know when they can return to the pool, hot tub, ocean or lake after laser eye surgery. At Providence Eye, we advise our LASIK eye surgery patients to wait for 14 days before returning to these activities to ensure optimal LASIK aftercare and healing. Due to the chemicals in chlorinated water and the particles found in salt and freshwater bodies, irritation, redness and corneal tissue infection is a high possibility immediately after LASIK eye surgery. Interactions with these bodies of water can slow the healing process or cause post-op damage.
Returning to Daily Activities After LASIK
As patients quickly regain their ability to perform everyday activities the day after LASIK eye surgery, it is important to remember that even though you will likely not experience any pain, your corneal tissue takes time to completely heal. To minimize chances for corneal infections or flap dislodging, Dr. Nunnery and Dr. Mozayeni instructs post-op patients to wait the recommended amount of time to do the following:
1. Applying Makeup and Eye Creams: One Week After LASIK
- Wait 7 days after LASIK eye surgery to apply any eye makeup including eye cream, eyeliner (including kajal or kohl eyeliner), mascara or eye shadow. It is important when applying other facial makeup that you do not rub near your eye, ensuring powders such as toners, foundations, or blush don't get into the eye.
- Generally, it is a good idea to purchase new eye makeup to wear after your LASIK surgery, as this will minimize any risk of infection.
- Please take extreme caution when removing your makeup after LASIK. Be careful not to use particular force on your eye or rub excessively when removing eye makeup, as this can harm the flap that was created.
2. Exercise: One Day to Two Weeks
- You may begin exercise in your home or outside 2 days after your LASIK eye surgery.
- Our surgeons recommend avoiding public gyms for 5 days after your LASIK eye surgery, as there is an increased risk of infection.
- Swimming exercises and other workouts involving chlorinated, salt or freshwater areas should be avoided for 2 weeks.
- Protective eyewear should be worn with any contact sports, basketball or racquet sports such as tennis, racquetball, and squash for four weeks after LASIK. This allows individuals to play their favorite sports while maximizing eye protection.
3. Work and Using a Computer: One Day
- The vast majority of people can return to work the day following LASIK eye surgery. Providence Eye advises patients to purchase over-the-counter preservative-free lubricating drops in individual vials that will be used for several weeks during the LASIK post-op period. When returning to work you need to make time to keep up with both prescribed and over-the-counter lubricating drops. By following instructions for drops you will shorten healing time, maximize comfort and improve your post-op work productivity.
- If your job includes frequent computer use, try to blink more often - studies show people tend to blink half as often as they normally do when they are using a computer. You can also increase your use of lubricating drops if you feel like your eyes are dry or your vision seems foggy. Eyes can be dry even though they don’t feel dry to you. Additionally, it is important for you to change your focus every 20 minutes. We suggest you put a reminder on your calendar to stand up and focus on something that is farther away for 30 seconds to one full minute. This will help your eyes slowly adjust back to heavy computer screen use and keep your eyes lubricated throughout the day using your over-the-counter preservative-free lubricating drops.
4. Outdoor Work: Two Weeks
Our LASIK surgeons advise their LASIK post-operative patients to avoid dust, smoke, mold, and work in the yard, barn, attic, basement or crawl space for 14 days. This helps ensure that:
- The chances for small or large outdoor particles to enter the eye is minimized, as is the risk of infection, eye rubbing, or dislodging the flap accidentally.
- Substances such as smoke, dust, dirt, and yardwork/gardening particles are less likely to aggravate post-operative corneal tissue and become lodged in the corneal flap, causing discomfort and potential infection.
If you do happen to get dust or dirt into your eye within the one-week timeframe after your LASIK surgery, rinse your eyes with your preservative-free lubricating drops that you purchased prior to your surgery. Should your eyes remain irritated, we tell our patients not to hesitate to call to discuss their situation.
5. Sleep, Children & Pets: One to 14 Days (depending on your specific situation)
- Upon completion of your LASIK eye surgery, your surgeon will tape clear plastic shields over your eyes to ensure they are protected from irritants, bumps and rubbing. You will wear these for 24 hours except when you are instilling eye drops.
- Providence Eye instructs patients to wear protective shields for 5 nights following their surgery, in case the patient rolls over onto their face or unconsciously rubs their eyes while sleep.
- Providence Eye highly suggests the wear of protective plastic shields for 10-14 nights when animals or children are allowed to sleep in the bed with their parent(s). In general, we highly suggest minimizing interactions with pets and children that involve high chances for facial contact for up to a full week after LASIK surgery, so sudden pokes, jabs, and bumps do not occur.
- Avoid using a ceiling fan while sleeping, as this will make your eyes dry resulting in discomfort and occasionally blurry vision.
Medications After LASIK Eye Surgery
To initiate fast healing times and decrease dryness and chance of infection, Providence Eye sends all post-LASIK eye surgery patients home with specific instructions for the use of prescription eye drops. These measures are put into place to ensure your corneal tissue experiences the least amount of post-op inflammation and dry eye experienced by some patients. Using the following medications will not only ease any discomfort you are feeling, but it will also help you sleep soundly and keep you from rubbing your eye(s), which runs the risk of dislodging your healing corneal flap.
Preservative Free Lubricating Drops in Individual Vials
- Over-the-counter drops help relieve any dry eye or and general discomfort
- Keeping eyes moist will ensure the fastest healing cycle possible
- This acts as a “moisturizer” for your eyes. Even when your eyes don’t feel dry, they may be
- Pro-Tip – keep them in the refrigerator for extra cooling relief.
- Inflammation relieving eye drops reduce swelling and irritation in the ocular cavity after LASIK eye surgery
- Utilizing these drops according to your surgeon's specific instructions ensures fast recovery and reduces inflamed corneal tissue, as the tissue heals faster and poses a lower risk for post-op corneal infections
- Prescription-strength eye drops prevent eye infections and minimize post-op inflammation.
Regular Prescriptions Outside of LASIK
- All medications, both over the counter and prescription, should be reviewed with your surgeon, Dr. Mozayeni or Dr. Nunnery, prior to your LASIK eye surgery. There are certain medications that increase ocular dryness and can create other LASIK complications. If necessary, Dr. Mozayeni or Dr. Nunnery will consult with your primary care physician to properly manage any non-procedural-related prescription medications.